Sand Point Lighthouse
Picture gallery |
The Sand Point Lighthouse was built in 1867, by
Service, at a cost of $11K.
It was a story-and-a-half,
rectangular building, standard for the times, with an attached brick
tower topped by a cast iron lantern room which housed a fourth
order Fresnel lens. The light, a fixed red
signal, first showed on the
night of May 13, 1868. Ships, first schooners and later steamers
carried iron ore out from the several
lumber from sawmills. Even before
the railroad reached
from Green Bay, passengers arrived by boat from the
The light warned the ships off Sand Point
sand reef which reached out into the Bay.
The Sand Point Lighthouse served mariners continuously from 1868
until 1939, except for a short time in 1886 when
it was out of commission because
of a fire which severely damaged the building. This also cost the life of Merry Terry, one of the first
women light keepers on the Great Lakes.
Nine keepers and their families lived in
the Sand Point Lighthouse and kept the light burning in its tower and
shining out over Little Bay De Noc.
When the US Coast Guard took over all
navigational lights in the country from the National Lighthouse Service
in 1939, changes came to the Sand Point Lighthouse.
By 1939, the contours of Escanaba
changed by dredging and filling, leaving the lighthouse
some distance from the hazard for which it had been
giving warning. So, upon taking responsibilities for
navigational lights that year the Coast
a crib light several hundred feet offshore.
This crib light is
still in use today, and may be seen from the windows
the old Sand Point Lighthouse.
The Coast Guard then established an Aids
Team in Escanaba, its activities centered in the
The building itself, after major
alterations, became the family residence for the Officer-in-Charge of
the station. The lens and lantern room were removed, and the
height of the tower reduced by ten feet. This necessitated the
removal of the circular metal stairway and construction of a wooden
stair within the square tower. The roof of the main building was
raised four feet to permit the construction of three bedrooms and a bath
on the second floor. Additional windows were cut into the original
walls, and door openings and walls changed in the interior of the
building. In later years, sheet insulation and aluminum siding
were applied over the entire exterior, thus destroying any semblance to
In 1985 the Coast Guard decided to
discontinue the use
of the building as
a residence and indicated that it
be razed. This aroused the interest of
the Delta County
Historical Society, since
it was known that under the
the Lighthouse building, one of the
oldest and most historic buildings in the area.
A lease form the Coast Guard was negotiated, and
research and fundraising began.
A copy of the original 1867
plan of the building, which
may be seen in the
exhibits room of the
house, existed in the Archives of the
with other information from the National Archives, gave sufficient
information to begin to restore the exterior
to the original appearance.
A duplicate cast iron
room from Poverty Island, and a forth
order lens completed the authenticity of the restoration.